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Loss of US Weapons Sales Prompts Pompeo to Keep Arming Saudi Coalition – Reports

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Weapons - Sputnik International
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo overruled staff objections to continued US weapons sales for the Saudi-led air campaign in Yemen after being warned that an embargo could jeopardize $2 billion in arms sales to America’s Persian Gulf allies, according to the Wall Street Journal reports published on Thursday.

Pompeo overruled the department's specialists, who were concerned about the rising civilian death toll in Yemen, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a classified State Department memo and people familiar with the debate.

Men ride a motorbike past a hazard sign at a site hit by an airstrike on Tuesday in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rebel-held Idlib, Syria April 5, 2017 - Sputnik International
Pompeo Pumps Idlib Diplomacy
The top US diplomat instead sided with the State Department’s legislative affairs team after they argued that suspending support could undercut plans to sell more than 120,000 precision-guided missiles to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the report said.

READ MORE: US State Secretary Pompeo to Chair UN Security Council Meeting on North Korea

The article estimated that the value of the future weapons sales was at least $2 billion.

A recent UN report found that the Saudi-led coalition airstrikes were responsible for most of more than 16,000 civilians killed or injured in Yemen over the past three years.

Saudi airstrikes have hit open-air markets, funerals, a wedding and most recently, a school bus in killing more than 40 Yemeni students on a field trip in August.

READ MORE: US: Saudi-Led Coalition Vows to Compensate Victims of Airstrikes in Yemen

For weapons sales to continue, the State Department is required to certify every six months that the Saudi-led coalition is taking steps to minimize civilian casualties.

State Department specialists argued that Pompeo could decline the certification but still allow weapons sales to continue by invoking a US national security exemption, according to the Journal.

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